Sunday, October 19, 2008

My Batman Moment

I once prevented a rape. When I was in my early twenties, I managed a bookstore at the Brea Mall. Working late one night shelving an endless delivery of new titles, I left after most of the mall employees were gone. As I walked across the parking lot there were maybe six cars in my section, scattered sparsely hundreds of yards apart from each other. Making my way to my car, yawning, I dug into my pocket for my keys. That's when I heard a muffled yelp.

I turned in the direction of the noise and noticed a pair of women's shoes jutting out between two cars parked next to each other. Her feet kicked weakly and I thought maybe she'd fallen and hit her head. I ran to assist her and found a guy laying on top of her, pinning her to the ground and holding his hand over her mouth. Her eyes found mine and there was fear in them like I had never seen before. "What the F*ck!" I screamed as I reached for the guy's collar. "Get the F*ck off her man!" As he rolled off the woman my grasp on his collar slipped. He spun and kicked me hard in the stomach. I doubled over as I slammed into the car behind me. The rapist gained his feet and as he turned to run, I dove for his legs but missed. By the time I got up off the pavement, he was leaping a fence a hundred yards away.

I turned to the frightened woman, who was already fumbling for her keys, trying to get into her car. She was crying, and her hands shook badly.

"Are you OK?" I asked.

"I'm fine." She spat. "I just need to get home to my kids."

"We should call the police." I said.

"I'll call them from home…I just…I just need to go." With that she dropped into her car and looked up at me. "Thank you," she said before speeding off. I should have taken her plate number and called the cops myself, but it didn't occur to me at the time. She'd been wearing a nametag from one of the shops in the mall and I went to check on her the next day only to be informed that she'd quit. I hope she called the cops.

Rape is a crime that goes unreported most of the time. I wish I had been able to catch the guy. I wish I had thought to call and report it. I wish I really was Batman.

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